Police and parish councillors have revealed why they have worked together to fence off a section of roadside woodland in York.
As YorkMix reported yesterday, a section of fencing has been installed between a layby and a wooded area on the A19 at Skelton that’s become notorious for dogging and cruising activities.
Anti-social behaviour here has seen people exposing themselves, using the woods as a toilet – and has even led to violence.
Using money from the community fund of North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe, the fence has been installed along the stretch of woods next to the layby.
It is a joint effort. PC Alex Dobson acted as facilitator, bringing all parties together, including Skelton Parish Council and Ms Metcalfe.
PC Dobson told YorkMix: “The main thing the fence is for is to stop cars parking next to the woods, and people popping in the woods to use it as a toilet, or to use it to take their clothes off and to expose themselves to other passers by.”
He said families use the area, especially since the lockdowns, as a place to walk and exercise.
The project is also intended to deter fly tipping and littering. Cllr Adrian Mansell, vice chair of Skelton Parish Council, said: “Having walked through there with a dog, the amount of detritus that’s out there, and little bits of sexual paraphernalia – it’s littered everywhere in there.
“It’s literally a health hazard.”
Violence is another problem. “People have been attacked,” said parish councillor Linda Mansell. “They’ve gone to van drivers who have just stopped for a rest and to have lunch and accosted them, and there’s been fights that way.
“There was a man dressed as a lady, she was attacked. The police came and she had to go to hospital.
“With all the drug paraphernalia that’s on the other side of here, it’s quite obvious as to what’s going on.”
The fence runs along the layby but no further, so it is still possible to enter the wooded area. And that was deliberate, said the police commissioner.
“You can still access the wood. And there’s a there’s a walk on the other side. But it’s that deterrent really that first point of deterrent,” Ms Metcalfe said.
She didn’t want the wood fenced off altogether. “I don’t think that’s necessary. And I don’t think that’s right either.
“It’s a piece of private land which the landowner allows people to walk on. There is a nice walk there to the actual hotel. We just felt that this was appropriate and proportionate.”
The trouble “really disrupts the residents” she said. “The police have been concerned about this layby for the past 20 years, and wanted to get something done.
“And this was a really good neighbourhood community project where they all came together – and they applied to my community fund to get the funding to put this fence up.”